Woman Diagnosed with Rare Disease at Rarer Age

Woman Diagnosed with Rare Disease at Rarer Age

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Keith McCord ReportingA Davis County woman is going to have bone marrow transplant surgery this Friday. That type of surgery is not unusual, but what makes this case different is that her disease usually strikes people much later in life.

Kathy Murray has gotten very familiar with all the machines and other equipment at University Hospital. For more than a week she's had chemotherapy treatments every six hours. She has a condition called: Mye-lo-dysplastic Syndrome, or MDS. It's a disease that causes her bone marrow to malfunction.

Finn Bo Petersen, Dir., U. of U. Blood & Marrow Transplant Program: "Her disease can best be described as a 'pre-leukemia', and that condition is even more rare than leukemia, which is rare also. So it's a very very rare condition."

Bone marrow manufactures our red and white blood cells, along with blood platelets. For Kathy, she has an elevated platelet count, which could lead to clotting, strokes and other problems.

Kathy Murray, Bone Marrow transplant Patient: "I found out when I was 15, but it was 'thrombo-cytosis' at the time. And just the last couple of years it's turned kind of crazy."

Crazy to the point where her medicines are no longer working. The only solution is a bone marrow transplant. After testing her parents and five sisters as possible donors, her sister Monica was a perfect match.

Monica Shulz: "I know it is a painful process, but it's something that I am grateful to do for Kathy. We've always been very close and I'm grateful that I can go thru a little bit of this with her."

Kathy's case is rare, in that the disease is more commonly found in men, between the ages of 60 and 80. Because she's in her 30's, doctors believe Kathy's chances of beating MDS with the transplant are as high as 80 percent. She told us it'll be like starting a whole new life with her husband Shawn and their two young children.

Kathy Murray: "I have life before transplant, and life after transplant, because I won't be the same. I'm hoping to be healthier and lead a long, full life. But I'm going to have to get my childhood immunizations all over again, and it'll be a different lifestyle. A new normal."

She's hoping to start feeling "normal" again soon! Her relatives say the chemo treatment has made her quite sick. On Friday doctors will draw 100 vials of bone marrow from Monica, and immediately transplant it into Kathy. We wish her well.

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